The Gophers have played four true freshmen this year, and all have started. Wide receiver Demetrius Douglas was a starter from the opener before his season-ending injury (undisclosed) after three games, while defensive end Nate Umlor, safety Ken Handy-Holly and cornerback Justus Harris all are in the starting lineup.
But that should be it for true freshmen playing. Unless there’s an emergency, coach P.J. Fleck said he won’t pull a redshirt with four games remaining.
“Right now, it will hurt the kid, and it will hurt the future,” Fleck said. “And I don’t think it’ll help us enough now to get us to a point that I think it’ll be productive.”
Earlier in the season, Fleck considered playing true freshman cornerback Rey Estes, a converted quarterback, but Estes suffered a wrist injury two weeks ago in practice.
“It just got too late,” Fleck said.
Fleck said he didn’t know if running back Shannon Brooks would be available for Saturday’s game at Michigan. Brooks, the Gophers’ second-leading rusher with 369 yards, left last week’s game at Iowa and has battled shoulder and leg injuries this season, missing the Illinois and Middle Tennessee games.
• The Gophers’ Nov. 11 home game against Nebraska will be an 11 a.m. start and be televised on Fox Sports 1.
• Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said there’s a “51 percent chance” that redshirt freshman quarterback Brandon Peters will start Saturday. Peters replaced John O’Korn against Rutgers last week, leading the Wolverines to touchdowns on his first three drives in a 35-14 victory.